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Today on NBCMack makes a difference on Today Show#039;

It’s not unusual to find college students participating in internships for a valuable bit of on-the-job training.

Not many interns routinely get a lift to work in a chauffeur-driven car, however.

Then again, not many college students get to intern with Matt, Katie, Ann and Al on NBC’s ‘Today’ Show.

Greenville native Ceddrick Mack does.

Don’t worry, though—Mom is helping this personable 22-year-old Auburn student keep his head firmly placed on his shoulders.

&uot;My mom keeps saying, ‘Don’t get too used to the limo, son, it’ll be back to the Civic when you get home,’&uot; laughs Mack.

Mack, 1998 graduate of Greenville High School, says he is enjoying the ‘chance of a lifetime’ working with the top-rated network morning show this summer in New York City.

He is one of a handful of college students from across the nation–just fourteen chosen from a pool of over 2,000 applicants–who are interning this summer at NBC’s top-rated ‘Today’ Show.

Mack, who is active in student government at Auburn, was originally on track to pursue a very different career.

&uot;I started out majoring in biomedical science, and I’ve actually completed my pre-recs for med school,&uot; Mack explains.

However, after three years spent diligently working toward medical school, Mack felt his true calling might be in a different direction.

Now majoring in mass communications, with a minor in marketing, Mack is excited about the opportunities he believes broadcast journalism offers to him.

&uot;I feel this world [of network television] offers challenges every hour of every day. News broadcasting is very important—every person needs to be informed about what is affecting their future and their children’s future,&uot; Mack explains.

The hours can be tough at ‘Today’.

&uot;Some days, when we are working on special segments, I have to be there at 5 a.m. and I work until 3 p.m.

We recently did a weeklong series on &uot;Make Your Man Over&uot; and I worked with a lot of the producers on that one.

It was truly a lot of fun and turned out to be a huge success for the show,&uot; notes Mack.

When he’s not assisting with special segments, Mack stays busy dealing with scheduling, going out on location shoots, dubbing and pitching ideas to the producers.

When there is no segment work to be done he usually gets a break with his schedule and goes back to a nine-to-five routine.

&uot;Of course, if there is breaking news, any of my days can stretch into the night…sometimes it requires long hours and extra work to get things done right.&uot;

And Mack is someone who knows about getting things done.

Very active in student government in Auburn, he has served as treasurer for the Student Government Association and as president of the Student Alumni Association.

It is these and other leadership roles Mack believes have helped him in preparing for his ‘Today’ experience.

And he admits it’s been, at times, a rocky experience adjusting to the brusque manners and frenetic pace of the Big Apple.

&uot;Coming from a small southern town, there is a definite sense of culture shock…throngs of people everywhere, everyone is always in a such a hurry.

At times it’s like being in a whirlwind.

I just want to say, ‘Hey slow down, relax a little,’&uot; Mack remarks.

And as the only male African-American intern on the staff, Mack feared being labeled as ‘the black guy’.

He soon discovered his fears were unfounded.

&uot;Everyone just treats me as Ceddrick.

I really do like the diversity you find here, the lack of labels; that is refreshing,&uot; Mack says.

The young intern takes his role as a sort of

unofficial ambassador pretty seriously.

&uot;I want to be a good role model for my little brother Vincent and all our African-American youth. In my mind, I’m representing so many people—my university, Greenville, Butler County, my race,

African-Americans—I want to show them to the world in the best, most positive light I can.

Sometimes I think that’s the toughest part of what I do,&uot; Mack notes.

(The second toughest thing, he notes wryly, is simply &uot;getting up&uot;.)

Mack says the people he meets &uot;absolutely love&uot; the gentle cadence of his Alabama accent.

He gets asked lots of questions about ‘back home’ wherever he goes.

&uot;You know, there are many misconceptions about the South…but once you get the chance to sit down and talk with people and tell them about your background, they often see things in a different light,&uot; he explains, adding, &uot;People really do take note of how I treat them… they remark on how polite and respectful I am.

I let them know, hey, that’s the way we are in Alabama.&uot;

The question everyone back home seems to be dying to ask him is this: Are ‘Today’ hosts Matt Lauer and Katie Couric really as nice as they seem on television?

&uot;Absolutely.

I admit there have been some famous people I have met that disappointed me, but Matt and Katie are very genuine—all I expected them to be and even more,&uot; he notes.

While he’s worked long and hard this summer, often skimping on sleep, Mack will tell you he’s had ‘a blast’.

He believes it’s just the beginning.

&uot;I do believe I will get a job offer of some sort…I think I’m performing well and making a good impression…and one day I would like to be on the air, I think.&uot;

Make no mistake.

This ace performer is not one to fail to give credit where and when he believes it due.

&uot;My mom, Bernice, is my number-one role model, my biggest fan since day one. She’s given me that vision on life, that extra burst of energy…all my teachers have gone way overboard to make sure I am on the right track.

All the educators in the public school system have been a joy,&uot; Mack notes.

Mack believes in keeping his options open.

(There is, after all, always the possibility of medical school.)

It boils down to this: whatever career path he ultimately chooses, Mack definitely knows he wants to work with people.

&uot;Every human being has a quality from which we all can take and learn something about ourselves.

That is why I would love to work in the communications field—because of people.

I’m not looking for fame and fortune, but I AM looking for a wonderful life.&uot;